Thursday, September 16, 2004

What a way to end it

Today is my last day at the really big newspaper. Tomorrow, I start my freelance career with a trip to Belize. A Conde Nast glossy is sending me down there to check it out for honeymooners. I'll be staying on a private island which caters to really rich folks and celebrities. I'll probably be the poorest guest they've ever had. Hey, I may not be able to pay my rent, but I can stay at a $1,300 a night resort where I'll have my own butler! Criminy.

Anyway, it seems a fitting end to my time at the WSJ. Yeah, so it's fluffy. I'm not saving anyone from genocide or uncovering political untruths or saving the whales, but after five years of a job that was oftentimes a whole lot of drudgery, I feel like I've earned this pina colada of an assignment.

Curiously, it was not my affiliation with this big, prestigious newspaper that got me the gig. It was my work for Black Table, an amazing independent site run by my dear, sweet friend Eric, a man who makes a mean latke and weilds a witty pen. Everyone who writes for them writes for free (again, I'm putting the "free" in freelance so far), but I really enjoyed what I was doing for them.

Because I enjoyed what I was doing, I think it turned out better, and it attracted attention. When I got the Belize assignment, the editor told me how much she liked my Black Table stuff and said my personality came through. You always hear people say that if you love what you do, success will come, but I think I was afraid to believe that. It had happened to some other people -- a book deal here, a magazine gig there -- but I didn't think I was good enough for it to happen to me.

Only when pushed to the max was I able to break free of the golden handcuffs of the WSJ. So let's hope those people were right, that I wasn't stupid to believe them, that kharma does its magic and that if I chase work down with fervor, I'll be able to wrestle some paychecks out of it.

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